About Us

Transforming Unemployment into Opportunity

Fresh Start Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that builds meaningful construction career opportunities for discouraged workers in the Washington D.C. area through quality job-training, industry mentorship, and wrap-around community support.

There is a gap in services for those who are facing unemployment in Washington D.C. Another temp job doesn't bridge that gap.

What can bridge the gap is a comprehensive, holistic approach, that helps each person to build a meaningful career with the skills they need to obtain, retain, and sustain their employment. 

The Fresh Start Difference

Fresh Start Project uses a holistic approach—looking at each participant's big picture to help them see the path to their goals. We are not just another job training program, temp agency, or pipeline pushing individuals through for the sake of a statistic. 

We are in partnership with our clients, helping them think differently about their careers, drafting a personal roadmap for success, and coaching the individual to problem solve inside their careers as well as outside of the office.

This personalized attention allows the individual to fully focus on their goals and work from the inside out. 

  • Quality Training

    Participants earn industry-recognized certifications that enhance knowledge, bring new skills, and lead to meaningful employment

  • Industry Mentors

    Participants are connected with industry professionals who nurture their professional and personal development

  • Community Partners

    Network with organizations committed to offering support and other services in our life-integrated careers development program

  • Long-Term Support

    Wraparound support and ongoing coaching and consulting help participants and their employers ensure retention, job satisfaction, and advancement.


Tia Watkins

Founder & Executive Director

Tia completed both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration through the University of Maryland. She built a multi-faceted career serving communities and organizations in job development and coaching, recruiting, and human resource operations. Additionally, she has supported her community through serving grassroots organizations geared to improving the lives of others.

As a seasoned HR professional, Tia noticed the large number of potential candidates who lacked the technical and soft skills necessary to proceed through an initial interview. She saw that there was a gap in these skills that kept them from being able to obtain employment and realized that there was an opportunity to close that gap.

Direct service is where Tia would have the most impact, applying everything she’s learned from her corporate and volunteer experience, so in early 2018, Tia founded Fresh Start Project, a non-profit organization that serves communities and discouraged workers by assisting them with building meaningful careers.

Tia completed her education while parenting two children whose fathers were serving significant sentences in federal prisons. This experience gave her a unique understanding of the struggles that returning citizens and their families face when trying to reintegrate and the incredible burden these struggles place on the custodial parent. Providing training opportunities for these citizens, as well as other discouraged workers, to build meaningful careers allows the entire family dynamic to survive and even thrive.

Tia is the mother of two wonderful children and takes pride in spending time with her family and loved ones. She enjoys reading, travel, and cuisine of all kinds.


Scott Perry

Board Chair

Scott Perry is a native Washingtonian, born and raised in DC. He attended Howard University where he majored in Legal Communications with the goal of pursuing a career as an attorney. However, after completing undergrad and obtaining his B.A., Scott decided he wanted to be actively involved in helping those less fortunate than himself and he began looking for ways of working in Human Services. 

Eventually, Scott found his niche and began working for Job Corps as a Career Placement Specialist. Over the years Scott has worked in Case Management and Adult Education, but the bulk of his career has been in Workforce Development, helping individuals succeed in the workplace.

In his spare time, Scott is busy with activities at church and serving on the Board of various nonprofits. For fun, he enjoys taking day trips, going to the movies, and spending time with friends.

I was drawn to FSP because I am a strong believer that EVERYONE deserves another chance, a fresh start, at shaping and enhancing their lives. The Fresh Start Project affords men and women the opportunity to learn new skills, enhance previous training, and network with peers and professionals who are happy to support them where necessary. The Fresh Start Project does endorse a second chance - they endorse as many chances as needed in order for success to be manifested."


Carla Ricks

Board Secretary

Carla Ricks was born in Clinton, Maryland, and raised in nearby Forestville, Maryland. She attended Morgan State University where she obtained her Bachelors of Science in Health Education with a concentration in Administration. She also attended the University of Maryland Global Campus and obtained her Masters of Science in Management with a specialization in Project Management.

 Over the course of her career, she has worked at George Washington Medical Faculty Associates and Prince George’s County Public Schools. She currently works at Precision Wall Tech, Inc. and in her free time enjoys spending time outside exercising and enjoying nature’s beauty.

 “I was willingly drawn to Fresh Start Project as this organization as a whole person building block that will always uplift, inspire, encourage and recharge the ambitious construction craftsmanship talents in each of the participants.

The small cohort sizes are conducive for effective teaching, learning, and discussions. The environment is favorable for efficient participation and one-on-one interaction. 

In life, we all need a Fresh Start!!!

Cindy Athey

Cindy Athey

Board Member

As President and Owner of Precision Wall Tech, a commercial painting, wallcovering, and specialty coatings company in Washington, DC, Cindy Athey has been a fixture in the DC construction industry for years. Cindy grew up in Prince Georges County, Maryland where she attended High Point HS, graduated from Bowie HS, and attended the University of Maryland. Though she began her career as a field surveyor, she was encouraged by a mentor to start her own company and in 1984, she formed Precision Wall Tech.

Cindy is personally and professionally devoted to enriching the lives of others – including her employees, the construction industry, and the communities where Precision works. Cindy volunteers on many community boards and commissions and is a fierce advocate for construction worker rights, including fair wage issues, and is a recipient of the Legacy Award for her outstanding support and fundraising efforts.

Cindy is the proud Godmother to two college students, Domenick (22) and Sierra (20). She enjoys traveling, spending time with her family, and snow skiing.

“Fresh Start Project is an organization that operates with true heart, passion, and a love for the people they serve. I have been very blessed to have great mentors and colleagues since starting Precision and being involved in FSP gives me the opportunity to return the same support to others who desire a fresh start. It is an opportunity to make a true impact on the lives of others.


Adam Abosedra

Board Member

Adam brings over ten years of experience in the retail, corporate, government, and non-profit sectors with a specific focus on HR strategy & transformation. He helps guide organizations during business transformations and develops processes and techniques to manage the people side of large-scale changes, including strategic communications, engagements, and trainings.

Adam is originally from Boulder, Colorado but has lived in the Washington, DC area since 2010 where he met his wife, Christine. Outside of work, Adam loves to run and has finished three marathons.

“I’ve always had a passion for building professional development and career opportunities for others. The Fresh Start Project underscores and addresses a significant need and overlooked population in the Washington, DC area. I’m excited to help cultivate long-term career paths within FSP.”


Khalilah Ballard

Board Member

Khalilah Ballard is a Maryland native, born and raised in Hyattsville, MD. Khalilah currently works in the Human Capital Department at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and has been with the company for over 20 years working in several departments over
the years.

In the past she has volunteered to feed the less fortunate during the holidays. She comes from a large family; some of her family work in the construction field, which is one of the reasons why this nonprofit caught her attention.

She has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from Strayer University. She would like to give back to the community and use her knowledge and skills to help others. She currently resides in Maryland and enjoys spending time with friends and family.


Joseph WIlson

Board Member

Joseph D. Wilson is a native Washingtonian who has lived in Prince George's County for over 20 years. Following an accomplished 30-year career with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Joe has directed his post-retirement efforts towards recruitment, training, workforce readiness, and business development ventures in his community.

 Joe has taken on active roles in providing direct service and resources for at-risk youth while focusing on community collaboration, volunteer opportunities, and civic engagement activities in underserved areas.

 As a strategic leader with a passion for success, Joe has successfully developed and implemented workforce initiatives that have led to job readiness, on-the-job training programs, employment opportunities, and, ultimately, self-sustainment for many program participants. He has built relationships between local job seekers, employers, and program providers that have translated into success. These critical initiatives have provided "much-needed" services to target populations while strengthening business opportunities and resulting in economic growth and development for partnering communities. 

In his spare time, he loves playing golf, cooking, listening to music, and traveling.

“Fresh Start Project has a different approach from other organizations. The intentional one-on-one and small group support that is offered to discouraged workers is key to bridging gaps in our community.”